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Chris McGovern: Spoilt brats of the Blob duck responsibility for ghastly exam results

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SATs results for 11-year-olds in literacy and numeracy have been published and the educational establishment is not happy. The tantrum started early this year and, now that the results are out, the toys are now being flung out of the pram,

Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, told the Telegraph that: “Today’s results…tell 39 per cent of 11-year-olds that they have not reached ‘the expected standard’ for their age group and are not ready to begin secondary education…”

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers is equally enraged.  Its primary school specialist opined that: “We currently have a system in which the SATs hang over schools like the sword of Damocles.”

Whilst the union’s general secretary stormed: “SATs are at the centre of a toxic accountability system that is driving teachers and leaders out of the profession.”

The response of the Blob is entirely predictable. It is, nevertheless, depressing since this year’s 61 per cent ‘pass’ rate is an improvement on last year’s 53 per cent. There is some cheer to be had in the fact that, although the situation is bad, things may be moving in the right direction. As Nick Gibb, the Schools’ Minister, pointed out: “Today’s results show sustained progress…thousands more children will arrive at secondary school having mastered the fundamentals of reading, writing and maths, giving them the best start in life.”

But – accountability? The Blob is having none of it. And do not dare mention ‘reality’ when it comes to standards of attainment in British schools. When it comes to accountability, the educational establishment behaves rather like Veruca Salt, the spoilt and petulant brat in Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It cannot bear to face up to the truth of its responsibility for the long-standing under-performance of our schools and the betrayal of so many children for so long. Instead it is inclined to lash out and to demand it be appeased…or else.

Not that we should place all the blame on the Blob. It has got away with so much for so long because, for decades, and with only a few exceptions, government ministers have been incompetent or, more usually, have refused to stand their ground. Instead, they have courted the Blob and sought to please it. Government has created the monster that now holds the future of our children in its hands.

With a little paraphrasing, Roald Dahl’s explanation of what produced the obnoxious Veruca Salt could apply equally to the Blob.

Is the Blob the only one at fault? For though it’s spoiled, and dreadfully so, the educational establishment didn’t spoil itself, you know. Who spoiled it, then? Ah, who indeed? Who pandered to its every need? Who turned it into such a brat? Who are the culprits? Who did that? Alas! You needn’t look so far to find out who these sinners are. They are (and this is very sad) doting ministers that acted as MUM and DAD.

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Chris McGovern
Chris McGovernhttp://www.cre.org.uk
Chris McGovern is the Chairman of the Campaign for Real Education. A retired head teacher with 35 years’ teaching experience, Chris is a former advisor to the Policy Unit at 10 Downing Street under two Prime Ministers.

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